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Minnesota Childrens Museum Blog

Last week was Safety Week here at the Museum! Once a year we spend nine action-packed days reviewing our safety procedures. Because safety is a top priority we spend a lot of time talking not only about the routine things like reuniting families, but also about the more serious scenarios that we hope will never happen.

Spot the Hazard: Oh, no! Our World has been filled with safety hazards! How many hazards can you spot in two minutes? Part of the Visitor Assistants' job is to constantly be monitoring for safety issues while they are in the galleries. This could be anything from a water spill, to an unlocked door, to a broken exhibit.

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Evacuation Drill: The alarm has sounded and the staff must quickly and calmly evacuate our paper visitors from the building. Will everyone make it out safely? Although we rarely have to evacuate the building, it is something we take very seriously. Every evacuation drill is timed and evaluated.

First Aid: Not only do we practice first aid procedures (all floor staff are certified in first aid), we practice safety procedures for dealing with blood and other bodily fluids. Can you take off your safety gloves without contaminating your skin? We smear ketchup on our gloves to find out.

Box Office Safety: The entrance to the Museum is a key spot for safety awareness -- that is why the security guards are posted there. We always need to be aware o who is coming in and out of our building. Staying aware is also the number one way to protect our building and our visitors from acts of theft.

Although we hope that most of these scenarios will never happen, it is important for everyone to practice their safety procedures. What do you do to practice safety with your kids?

-Jessica Turgeon
Director of Visitors Services and Organizational Development

Five to six times a year, we practice emergency evacuation.  Although we haven't had to actually evacuate the building in over six years (quick, knock on wood!), it is really important that everyone know exactly what to do.  As you can imagine, it isn't like evacuating a normal building- someone has to crawl through the anthill, peek in the bathrooms, and check all the nooks and crannies in the Museum. 

All of our practice evacuations take place before or after normal hours, so to make them as realistic as possible we tape up paper people around the building.  Once the alarm sounds, the staff have to "save" all the people and regroup in the lobby where we check our time and success rate.

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Because we have to be prepared for any situation, we will often throw zingers in the mix- telling the staff they can't use a certain stairwell because of the fire, putting obstacles in front of the exits that they have to clear, or setting off multiple alarms for investigation.

The craziest situation we ever had to deal within real life was one busy Saturday many years ago when we not only had to evacuate hundreds of visitors, but also get Elmo and Cookie Monster down the stairs and out of the building without them taking their costumes off.  And for those of you who have ever wondered- that was the day we turned the coat rack motor off for good.

As for today's drill, we are happy to report that everyone made it out alive.


-Jessica Turgeon, director of organizational development and visitor services

So. . . how did those prevention tools work for you in Part 1? Here are some more tools to help you manage conflict and teach your children responsibility, in other words, guidance tools.


Encourage thinking:
  • Explain limits
  • Make a polite request
  • Provide a reminder of the rule
  • Ask your child to restate the rule
  • Ask your child for solutions or consequences
  • Use humor!
Show concern:
  • Affirm your child’s feelings and thoughts
  • Ask your child to help you understand
  • Redirect your child’s thinking
  • Provide a “hearing”
  • Help with frustrating tasks
  • Be willing to compromise
Confront the Situation:
  • Offer substitutes
  • Remove children from situations they can’t handle
  • Say, “No!”
  • Have child repeat the action
  • Give permission 
Try to stay calm and take a break if you find yourself getting too upset. Sometimes a “time out” for mom or dad works better than anything! Once you’re in a better frame of mind, you’ll be able to approach the situation more successfully.

Esther Schak
Parent Educator, Saint Paul ECFE

Minnesota Children's Museum is dedicated to supporting and honoring children's creative expression.  Children learn and make sense of their world through play, and creative expression is a critical component in a young child's learning by supporting and enhancing their physical, social-emotional, and cognitive development.  The Museum's daily programs, exhibits, and community partnerships all provide ample opportunity for children and families to engage in self-expression and creative experiences.  As you explore the Museum, notice the children's art work is displayed in prominent and meaningful exhibits throughout the Museum.

Over the past several years, school classes focused on creative expression have become vulnerable.  Art and music classes are often the first to be cut or shortened to make more time for math and language arts classes.  Since 2001-02, and average of nearly 30 minutes of art related instruction per day has been cut to accommodate a shift in educational focus.  (Choices, Changes, and Challenges: Curriculum and Instruction in NCLB Era, Center on Education Policy, Jennifer McMurrer, 2007)

Six years ago, in response to this reduced time spent on arts education in schools, Minnesota Children's Museum developed a community partnership program that sends visual artists into elementary classrooms to engage children in hands-on artistic experiences.  (If funding is not available to hire a local artist, the museum will partner with the school's art teacher to deliver the art program).  After each residency, the entire project is exhibited for at least six months in the Community Gallery in the Our World permanent gallery.  The exhibits highlight the cross-disciplinary nature of the projects, display the children's final art creations as well as writing the science-inquiry that are often important parts of the project.

Minnesota Children's Museum takes pride in embracing and nurturing development of the ‘whole child’ through experiential play!  Developmental pieces of the ‘whole’ child focus on language/literacy, social/emotional, cognitive, and physical growth.

Physical Growth:
Large motor skills begin to develop immediately for children.  Movement adds to a child’s ability to master skills that allow them to maneuver their bodies with intention, fluidly, and accuracy.  Constant opportunities for movement not only develop these skills, but also stimulate the brain for further developmental growth.



Infants

  • holding head up
  • rolling over
  • sitting up without tipping
  • crawling
  • walking
Toddlers
  • mastery of walking
  • running
  • marching
  • jumping, hopping
  • climbing
Preschool
  • skipping
  • hopping
  • catching
  • throwing
  • This is also when other related factors begin to emerge and become new skills for children to master such as:  
    • coordination
    • strength
    • balance
    • endurance
    • flexibility
Fine motor skills are essential for proper pencil grip and control when writing effectively (later in the early childhood years). The muscles in the hands and fingers are small, yet, used in grand proportions. Strengthening these muscles takes concentration and practice. Open-ended activities that allow children to develop these skills with little or no attention to precision will benefit their efforts.

Infants
  • batting at a mobile
  • grasping/grabbing for objects
  • holding objects
  • transferring objects from one hand to the other.
  • pincher grips (using the index finger and thumb to grab that Cheerio)
  • pushing buttons
  • working on turning pages of a board book
Toddlers
  • stacking small blocks
  • eating with utensils
  • beginning to hold writing utensils to make marks on paper (which, they also love to tear and rip…another great muscle builder)
Preschool
  • writing
  • drawing
  • cutting (in any form)
  • playing with Playdoh
  • building with Legos
Don't forget to visit Minnesota Children's Museum's newest exhibit Balancing Act. 
Balancing isn't just an act.  From teetering toddlers to tight-rope walkers, balance is something we all use in our everyday lives.  Our body and brain work together to help us balance.  Expand your understanding of balance as you participate in active learning experiences such as balance beams and boards, and discover what keeps spinning tops spinning, gymnasts on track and ice skaters on edge.  Put your sense of balance to the test in this hands-on children's exhibit and learn how you can practice and improve your own "balancing act"!